Pinkadottt

A Lifestyle Blog

Flying with a Baby

Nick and I love to travel. We actually waited the few years to try for a baby due to the fact that we wanted to see parts of the world before settling down with a family. Because they always tell you, life changes with a baby! & that it does. Once Beckett was born, I knew I didn't want to stop traveling for the next 10 years, when all of our children were "old enough" to travel. Nick and I promised each other that we would make the effort to still venture out as a family, even if it was harder. So we did! We took Beckett on a plane to California, a 4.5 hour flight from Chicago at 4 months old. He has also traveled to Rhode Island {at 7 months}, North Carolina {at 10.5 months} & New Orleans {at 11 months}. He also will be heading with us to Florida in a week {at 13.5 months}. As I'm planning for our upcoming trip, I thought I'd write up some of the things that made our life easier when traveling.

Side note: I won't sugar coat it. I will say that yes, traveling is absolutely harder with a baby. You will need SO many things and wish you had more arms. Packing is much harder! You will be more stressed the day of the flight. Things will happen, sometimes out of your control (baby pooping right as you take off, crying due to the pressure in the plane, etc.) but the more prepared you are, the less stressed you will feel.

Pack a bag of new toys for the plane ride. 
The day of our trip, I spent 45 minutes at Target to purchase as many things to attract Beckett's attention as I could find. I had a bag of tricks. Beckett does not watch any screens, due to the lack of interest, so we knew that was out of the question. I purchased mostly sensory items, a few new books, window decals and a whole lot of random items from the dollar spot at Target. I even purchased a real remote to let Beckett push the buttons, since that is always what he gravitates for at home. I'll blog about some of the items, with links to purchase, soon!

Pick your flight accordingly.
I'm a huge advocator in trying to find a flight that is nonstop (avoids the stress of taking off and landing more than once and most of all not having the chance of missing a connection), if possible. I understand that this doesn't always work with the location or budget, but if it's the difference of $75 I always think it's worth it to get the nonstop. Nick and I have had some serious close calls in our past, including Nick running with his belt in hand to make it on the flight, as they were closing the doors. STRESSFUL.

I also try to consider how the timing of the flight can work with the baby's schedule. If the flight leaves at the butt crack of dawn and we need to get him up at 3am, I know that we have a very high chance of him having a meltdown at the airport, on the plane, in the car to the destination. I also worry that messing with his routine may affect his sleep for days into our trip. As much as I try to plan this, I will say the last flight we went on, he completely missed his nap & all of the above occurred. Again, sometimes things happen, that aren't planned, but it's part of the adventure!

Bring something for the baby to suck on.
When I was nursing, flying was a breeze. I planned out feeding him to right when we were taking off and this helped his ears and put him to sleep. I was even able to watch a full movie on our first flight! I didn't remember the last time I had sat down and watched a movie start to finish! If he was fussy, I distracted him with nursing and that did the trick. I do recommend bringing a cover to not worry about who is sitting next to you or behind you. I found that it also helped keep the light and noise minimized during his airplane nap, until the poor guys sweating under it. I also recommend bringing a bottle or a sippy cup of milk or water to offer during the take off and landing. If the child sucks a pacifier, this will also do the trick! Some babies are more sensitive than others with the pressure change, but to be most prepared the better.

Baby carriers are a God send.
If you have any type of baby carrier, I recommend brining it to wear at the airport. I wore it on the shuttle buses to the airport {crazy to think I should just carry my child on a bus}, around the airport so I had more hands to carry the rest of our things, and during sight seeing when I didn't want to lug my stroller around. I always travel with two different carriers, one that is more structured (Ergo Baby), which worked best for the airport) and one that is wrapped (Wild Bird), which worked better to throw in my purse when heading to town on vacation. I also wait until the last minute to board (not with our group) to spend the least amount of minutes sitting on the plane. The flight attendant complimented this decision last time, as I'm sure they have seen their share of upset babies when flying!
 Ergo Baby
WildBird 

Baby items CAN fly for free! 
We learned this the hard way. We rented cars and rented the car seat too. In the end, it worked out, but it was pretty gross and not super cheap. On our 4th trip, we finally realized that baby items can be checked for free (Southwest)! WHAT?! Why not bring your own carseat if you can, for free! When you check your items, make sure you let them know what items are for the baby. We always bring our pack-n-play and stroller. If you don't specify, they will charge you a bag fee, which happened to us. Call the airline to check, we found that American and United do charge the same as carry on/checked bags.

DO NOT forget baby's identification.
This was also a mistake we made on our last trip. My husband forgot to grab his passport (and used his license instead) for his own identification but realized as we were at the ticket counter getting our boarding passes that Beckett's birth certificate was in his passport holder from our last trip. We were told that if we couldn't prove his age, we would have to purchase his own seat! He was 10 months old and couldn't even walk, but that was not enough. Our option was to prove it or purchase another ticket, an additional $700.... I think my mouth dropped halfway to the floor. Thankfully we were able to find a photograph on our phone to prove it, but my heart was racing for a good 10 minutes. We had never had a problem the last two flights, of course when we had everything we needed, but each airline has their own set of regulations. We won't be forgetting that again!

Smile! 
As the parent, you know what is best for your baby. Some may judge you for nursing at the airport or on the plane, (sigh...), or give a look of disgust as you are changing a diaper where it is convenient, or roll their eyes when your baby is melting down. It is the worst feeling to have all of the burning eyes on you. But try your best to be patient, smile and even apologetic (kindness always wins) if things don't go quite as well as planned. The last flight Beckett was on, you know, that time when he missed his nap, he kicked a woman, spilled soda on her scarf, yelled, fussed, threw toys that landed on her lap and never once sat still. For 2.5 hours straight....It was a nightmare. Thankfully she made us feel better, by telling us she was a mother of two boys, & truly didn't seem upset. Regardless, I still was mortified. My bag of tricks didn't help and Nick and I were exhausted by the time we got off that plane. In the end, things could have been worse and I'm so thankful we were seated next to her and not someone else that wouldn't have been so empathetic.

Take pictures, laugh, and have fun! You are going on an adventure! These memories will be ones you will have forever, with your little family, and although the children may not be old enough to remember the fun times you all had, your photographs will tell a beautiful story!

Good luck!

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